Fasting is an age-old practice, often done for religious reasons, but fasting for weight loss is still capturing the public imagination. You can find dozens of do-it-yourself plans touting the unproven benefits of fasting, ranging from flushing "poisons" from the body to purging 30 pounds of fat in 30 days.
It's true that fasting -- that is, eating little to no food -- will result in weight loss, at least in the short term. But the risks far outweigh any benefits, and ultimately, fasting can cause more harm than good.
What Is Fasting?
Fasting is defined as an act of abstinence from, or reduction in food, drink or both, for a specified period. A fast can be an absolute or intermittent fast. An absolute fast is a complete abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, such as a single day or some days. Intermittent fasts are only partially restrictive as they limit consumption of particular foods or substances. Apart from being a spiritual activity, fasting offers several health benefits. In fact, it is an effective way of incorporating healthy changes into your lifestyle.
Dangers of Fasting for Weight Loss
When you dramatically reduce your calorie intake, you will lose weight. But it can also cause all kinds of health problems, including muscle loss. Further, when you start fasting, your body goes into conservation mode, burning calories more slowly.
Keep in mind that the initial weight loss on a fast is primarily fluid or "water weight," not fat. And when you go back to eating, any lost weight usually gets a return ticket back. Not only do most people regain weight lost on a fast, they tend to add a few extra pounds because a slower metabolism makes it easier to gain weight. Worse, the weight that is regained is likely to be all fat -- lost muscle has to be added back at the gym.
Side effects of fasting include dizziness, headaches, low blood sugar, muscle aches, weakness, and fatigue. Prolonged fasting can lead to anemia, a weakened immune system, liver and kidney problems, and irregular heartbeat. Fasting can also result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies, muscle breakdown, and diarrhea. When you drink laxative concoctions during a fast, there is an increased risk of fluid imbalance and dehydration.
The risks get more complicated and severe the longer you stay on a fast, or if you repeatedly go on fasts.
Who should not try a fasting diet?
Fasting diets are not for everyone. People with major medical problems, or taking a range of medications including insulin, should not go on them, unless under medical supervision; they are not suitable for children, in pregnancy or for people with eating disorders; and they may exacerbate some mental health conditions.
Fasting diets can also have side-effects. The more days you spend “fasting”, the more likely you are to have them. Side-effects can include constipation, headaches, bad breath, gallbladder disease, gout and liver inflammation.
So, before starting a weight loss diet, see your doctor for a check-up. When you need more support to improve your eating habits or the diet you were following stops working, you need to try another approach. That is a good time to also get advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
What is the best diet for weight loss?
The best diet or supplement to help you achieve a healthy weight is by drinking Green Coffee. It should also help you feel better and be healthier.
By making improvements to your usual eating habits, that you can live with permanently, you will drop some weight. It might not be your dream weight, but it is likely to be realistic. It might not sound sexy, but it’s true.